FEBRUARY 18, 2015, Marine Corps Base Hawaii – Marines and their rifles know what counts in war is not the round a Marine fires, the noise of their burst or the smoke they make. They know it is the hit that counts.
Even during peacetime, Marines strive to be expert riflemen to maintain combat readiness. More than 190 Marines from different units and 12 other service members from other branches competed side-by-side to qualify as this year’s top shooter during the first day of the Pacific Division Matches at Pu‘uloa Range Training Facility on Feb. 9, 2015.
“Every year we hold competition matches where tenant commands within the Marine Corps stationed in Hawaii come together to compete for accolades and bragging rights, as well as to identify best shooting tenants,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jordan Kramp, the Pacific Division Matches executive officer.
The first week of the competition began as annual rifle qualification does, with classroom instruction, dry firing, establishing zeroes and live-fire training. After necessary measures have been taken, competitors began the individual practice and preliminary match portion of week one.
According to Marine Corps Order 3574.2L, the purpose of pre-competition instruction and practice is to “impart the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for safe and accurate firing of the rifle. This training will form the basis for all other training with the service rifle. “
When it was time to apply what they learned, competitors situated themselves on the firing line, accompanied by turbulent winds under the searing sun, already sporting red faces from dry-fire and live-fire practice.
“Today is match day one of individual shooting,” Kramp said. “Every shot fired counts for a two day aggregate, which determines the individual winners. The combined aggregate will determine the winners (of the competition).”
The competition consists of individual and team pistol and rifle matches, and awards are given to the top individual shooters, top team shooters and the top first-time division shooters.
“The competition is a great experience, said Sgt. Dustin Woods, a Marine with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. “It is my first year shooting Pacific Division. It’s a lot different than annual rifle qualification. The targets are a lot smaller at the same distances, and you have less time to shoot on some targets, but overall we are getting a lot out of it.”
The competition’s purpose is not only to define the top shooters of the competition, but to also ensure those who do not go onto further competitions teach what they have learned to others.
“The purpose of the division matches is to promulgate marksmanship skills and to continue to build a level of marksmanship,” said Capt. Jared Dalton, a representative for the commandant of the Marine Corps’ shooting team. “The top 10 percent get badges and get the opportunity to shoot championships. Our purpose as instructor cadre is to teach the other 90 percent who go back to their units to spread the knowledge we give them. Every Marine is a rifleman.”